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As we’ve endured three months and counting without live team sports, it’s become clear how much they matter in the grand scheme of the economic ecosystem. It’s not just players and owners losing money, it’s stadium vendors, businesses around venues, the TV and radio industry, and on and on down the line.
This would only be magnified if we were to lose football season, which is an economic driver of many regions across America. Speaking with CBS 42 in Alabama, Tuscaloosa mayor Walt Maddox said a season without Crimson Tide football could cost the town $2 billion.
“It would be economically catastrophic for Tuscaloosa if there is no football season,” Maddox said. “Even a mitigated football season with restricted attendance and number of ball games would have dire economic consequences.”
Look, on the basis of this tweet from the University of Alabama from 2017, Maddox’s eye-popping figure could be a bit of an exaggeration:
#UA’s economic impact: 2015-16 home football games had a total statewide impact of $175.5 million (average of $25.1 million/game) #RollTide pic.twitter.com/nvWiD1ULtY
— The Univ. of Alabama (@UofAlabama) June 19, 2017
I can see how you get to a greater number than $175.5 million once you factor in that we are a few years later and there are recirculation effects of money — for example, take a parking lot or a bar that does bonkers business on gameday. That income then gets spent within the community, and this pattern continues for theoretical perpetuity.
Nonetheless, while $2 billion seems a bit high, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration at all to say that Tuscaloosa and probably 20-30 other college football hotbeds would really be looking at a financial reckoning if we lost football season to coronavirus.